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US senators call out Amazon for 'union-busting' behavior

FILE: Amazon driver Shawndu Stackhouse wipes away sweat while delivering packages in Northeast Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, April 6, 2021.
Tom Williams
CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images
FILE: Amazon driver Shawndu Stackhouse wipes away sweat while delivering packages in Northeast Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, April 6, 2021.

Two senators from Connecticut say Amazon uses “union-busting” techniques and creates unsafe conditions for delivery drivers.

Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, both Democrats, joined in a bipartisan congressional letter requesting information from Amazon about its third party delivery partners, called Delivery Service Partners (DSP).

“Amazon needs to stop these union-busting techniques, needs to stop punishing workers who stand up for themselves when they are trying to get better conditions when it comes to delivering these packages,” Murphy said.

Amazon uses the third-party company to shift the blame for unsafe conditions, a common anti-union tactic, according to lawmakers. The companies are insufficiently paid by Amazon, creating poor working conditions for drivers, Murphy said.

“When you allow the biggest, most powerful corporations to subjugate workers, it becomes a precedent, it becomes a lesson for other employers, as well,” Murphy said.

Delivery drivers are contracted through third-party companies, and Amazon shifts the blame for unsafe conditions to the independent companies, Blumenthal said.

“Say that they are on their own. Work for us? No, they don't work for us. They are independent contractors,” Blumenthal said. “One of the oldest union-busting, anti-worker tricks in the book.”

Amazon delivery drivers have a 20% injury rate according to Sen. Murphy. Some drivers reported dog attacks and vans with broken air conditioning during extreme heat in the triple digits.

According to the company, since the DSP program was launched 2018, more than $8 billion was invested in updated technology, safety training, rates, programs and services.

Amazon said the letter is “misinformed and inaccurate.” The company also told CT Public the injury rate for their drivers is 10% lower than the industry average.

“DSPs are small business owners and entrepreneurs who are creating good jobs, with great pay and benefits, for more than 275,000 drivers around the world,” Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said. “We strongly dispute the claims in the letter and look forward to sharing the facts.”

Abigail is Connecticut Public's housing reporter, covering statewide housing developments and issues, with an emphasis on Fairfield County communities. She received her master's from Columbia University in 2020 and graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2019. Abigail previously covered statewide transportation and the city of Norwalk for Hearst Connecticut Media. She loves all things Disney and cats.